Hunger doesn’t take a break, not even for the Pope. Even though the Capital Area Food Bank’s D.C. headquarters is located just blocks away from where Pope Francis will be celebrating Mass, the so-called “Francis effect” has taken hold: the largest hunger non-profit in the area has found a way to keep food flow uninterrupted during the events at Catholic University.
With much of the city being subjected to strict road closures effecting many parts of the District, including the CAFB’s immediate neighborhood, CAFB CEO Nancy Roman and Senior Operations Director Mark Jaquez have had to think outside the box. Food delivery trucks will be staged Wednesday at one of the food bank’s 444 community food assistance partners, Shabach! Resource and Empowerment Center in Brightseat, MD. From there, food will be able to reach the people who need it. This diverting of vehicles away from Brookland will prevent any unnecessary bottlenecking around the food bank.
This pontiff’s unwavering message of compassion has inspired many who work in the hunger-relief movement, so temporarily suspending operations was not an option for CAFB President and CEO Nancy Roman. “How can we keep our hunger safety net strong in spite of road closures associated with the papal visit?” asked Roman. “Pope Francis wouldn’t want us to close down because of his visit, and we aren’t” she said, adding that “with nearly 700,000 people in our region struggling to get enough food to eat, we must remain open.”
This week’s visit to the United States by Pope Francis will include an address to a joint session of Congress, which many speculate will have a strong social justice theme. The 78-year-old leader of the Roman Catholic Church has spoken openly and frankly about caring for those in need. For the food bank, this means taking a few extra steps to ensure that operations do not cease during his visit – something that the pope himself would certainly applaud.